Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Well, here it is the end of January. By now, I was going to have lost 8 pounds. Nope. 2.

By now, I was going to have my basement completely cleaned out. Nope. Not close. I did get my Christmas decorations put away and sorted, and three drawers are cleaned. But there's still so much to do.

By now, my bedroom was going to be completely organized. Nope. Not touched.

By now, I was going to have shed myself of the Starbucks habit. Nope. Still happily drinking my Chai Tea Lattes.

By now, PattySue Finds a Home and A School Like No Other were going to be selling like crazy. Nope. Some sales, yes. Like crazy? Nope.

I guess that means I need to set more goals for February . . . and work harder at achieving them. Starting tomorrow . . .

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away

It seems the older I get, the more "roller-coasterish" life seems. It used to be that for every bad thing that happened (death of someone close to me, serious illness, and the like), there were usually four or five very happy events to compensate . . . weddings, babies, travels.

As I have aged, however, I have noticed that I hear much more about those who are struggling, and less about the weddings and births. I know they are going on, but among my age group, many of our friends' children have already gotten married or had their own children. It isn't like when we were all 30 and having our own families.

Our family has recently experienced several deaths, and several people about whom I have known via Facebook have passed on. As much as logic tells me it is the circle of life, it is still heart wrenching when a young life is cut short or a close relative passes on. I have also been watching as several friends or friends of friends are battling serious illnesses. I try not to dwell on it, but the prayer list is getting lengthy.

On Saturday night, Don and I had the opportunity to meet Owen Graham (who was born in November), and several of his parents' friends had their little ones there. The children were so much fun to watch. Then today we read PattySue to preschool and kindergarten children at Collegiate School. I need those fixes to remind me that the Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away. And to be grateful for both.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cleaning Out Drawers

I always delay cleaning out drawers because I pretend to have something more important to do. But today I decided I had to start someplace, so I picked three desk drawers to work on.

The first one, filled with financial information, was pretty boring . . . and relatively easy. Not a lot of fun papers to review, and although I found a lot to shred, it wasn't very exciting.

The second drawer, however, has been very fun. Saved cards, letters, and papers are always interesting and take me back to earlier times. Some of them were cards from when mom and dad died . . . not fun but heartwarming. Some were cards from Don and the kids that made me laugh.

One favorite was a card from a nephew. We had sent him a singing trout for a birthday, but he couldn't spell trout. The note said:

Thank you for the book and the tr (xxx) tor (xxx) singing fish.

Another was a school assignment about wanting to be like an older cousin, complete with picture. Then there was the poem from Diana, the thank you notes from many at school, the newspaper articles about various events.

I even had, for some reason, Graham Johnson's senior paper about Thrill King Johnson. I laughed and laughed!

I get frustrated with my pack-rat habits, but then on days like this, I am very happy I saved some of this stuff. And no . . . I didn't throw it away!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Songs in my Head!

Why is it that no matter what someone says, I can usually come up with a song to fit the occasion? Or I can take the occasion and fit the words into a song?

It drives me crazy!

For example, just sitting here I was thinking about dinner. I am roasting some turnips, and within about 2 seconds, I began to hum, to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, "Roasting some turnips, roasting some turnips, you'll come a roasting some turnips with me . . . "

Yep. I do it all the time.

Headed to the store for sandwich fixings? "Going out for some bread, for you. . . " (Going out of my head, over you . . . "

Not a day goes by that I come up with some corny lyrics to a song. And it doesn't just drive me crazy. It drives my friends crazy, too. I don't think they believe me when I tell them I try to keep a lid on it . . . but I do.

So, sorry. But I guess those are the fleas that come with dog . . . F, l, e,a,s that come with the dog (GLORIA Gloria).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, it has been more than a month since Sepia passed away. I miss him a lot, and perhaps Babs does, too. But you wouldn't know it. She is a different dog.

Take this morning for instance. When we woke up, she knew she was going for a walk and you would have thought she was 2 years old instead of 14. She wagged her little stubby tail, leapt down the hallway, and ran ahead of us, excited by the prospect. Sepia would get so excited that he overpowered her, I guess. She may have always done this, but we didn't notice. Now we do.

I also notice that she is much more attentive to me. She tries to always be in the same room with me. Perhaps she always did that, too . . . but it seems as if she was a little more aloof when Sepia was around. And she even sleeps on the bed now . . . before she would stay on the floor.

When I go to get in the car, she is there ready to go with me. She just goes to the back seat and sleeps, so I am not exactly sure why she likes to go . . . but she does. I wish she would sit on the console like Sepia used to do, but that's not Babs. On occasion she comes to the front seat, but usually she is happy in the rear.

Her eating habits are what I am not used to now. She has become a very picky eater. Once I started buying really good tasting stuff to entice Sepia to eat, rather than that hard food she used to eat, she WILL NOT go back to the old kind. When I was testing foods, I had tried some dried food for them. Although Sepia didn't like it (he didn't like anything by then,) the first time Babs tried it she loved it. So I bought a whole, pricey box for her. Won't touch it. So I mix in some of the good tasting stuff, some gravy, sometimes tuna juice with the rehydrated food. She is going to eat the stuff until the box is gone . . . I will win this battle . . . but it is hard. She finally eats it when I add enough to it . . . (kind of like when Don ate broccoli for the first time in college. . . add enough cheese to it, and it tastes just fine.) We have a long ways to go. I don't know where she got this picky streak . . . but it's ok. I like the new Babs just fine . . . even though I miss having Sepia around.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Axiom Brass

One of the most rewarding parts of my former position at The Independent School is seeing what our students do in their adult lives. TIS alums are in medical school and law school; several are in the process of getting their PhD's; many have good jobs and are already contributing to my social security :).

Friday night I had the opportunity to watch one of our alums practice his craft in very impressive fashion. Brett Johnson (06) majored in music performance at Northwestern University, and during his time there, he auditioned for a brass quintet called Axiom Brass. After a vigorous audition process, he was chosen to be the trombonist in the quintet. Besides being a performance group, they also provide workshops and learning opportunities for various groups, including colleges. Last week, they came to Wichita State University to run workshops for music students, culminating in their final event, a concert.

Although I have been to numerous concerts and symphonies, I had never listened to an entire concert with just brass instruments. It was most enjoyable. The group did an excellent job of varying the music, providing both classical and modern pieces. They commented on each piece, explaining the significance of the composer or why they thought they should include it in their repertoire. They even had a very catchy way to explain what a fugue is . . . I thought I knew, but now I know I know because I can explain it.

Over the years, Don and I have attended what appear to be random speeches, concerts or events because we knew someone involved. That's how we learned about Hal Dick and his voyages across the ocean in dirigibles, for example. Similarly, I doubt that we would have attended Axiom Brass if we had not known Brett was playing. Don and I agree we would have missed something very special if we had not been in attendance.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Enjoying Haywire

It was so fun seeing someplace I know open a movie. I even got teary-eyed! My grandmother's former cabin was in it . . . the store I love was in it . . .the silver truss bridge, the river, the hill across from the store . . . it was so fun to see what a movie-maker would do.

And the movie was a fun one to boot. Not my normal "go-to" movie, I was a little nervous. I tend to get antsy and scared at big action movies, so I didn't know how I would do. But since I knew the girl was going to make it out all right, I sat back and enjoyed the action. The plot was intriguing enough that we never knew what was going to happen next. And the ending is a surprise . . . a big surprise. Interwoven in the movie are a few humorous quotes, some beautiful scenery, and a lot of fighting!

And . . . it is a short movie. They don't belabor their point . . . they get to the point and get it over with. We thoroughly enjoyed the flick, and although it likely won't be an Oscar winner, it will be a winner with us!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Today is the opening of the movie Haywire. I can't wait to see it.

Now this is not generally my "go-to" kind of movie. I am a movie wimp . . . if it will make me anxious, or if it is sad, or if it is too adventurous, then I am not a good candidate for watching it. I get too uptight/sad/nervous/crazy in theaters . . . which is one reason we don't go to a lot of movies.

But Haywire is different. The first fifteen minutes of it were filmed at the Tererro General Store, just down the road from the cabin. Two years ago the film crew took over the Pecos Canyon for about five days. Luckily, on one of the days, a light dusting of snow had fallen, making the perfect setting for the opening scene. They came in, totally redecorated the store (turning it into a restaurant), filmed the specific scenes, and left.

I would have loved to have been there while all this is going on . . . and I can't wait to see how they used that part of the canyon in the movie. Hope I like the rest of the movie - I know I will like the first fifteen minutes!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Am Hacked Off!

I HATE HACKERS. May I please say it again? I HATE HACKERS. There aren't many things I hate, but hackers would be one of them.

What purpose does grabbing an email contact list and sending some stupid message or virus do? It just wastes time . . . and a lot of it. Several of my friends opened the attachment thinking it was really from me. I hope they don't get a virus on their computer. In the meantime, it took me over an hour to notify everyone on my contact list.

What I really can't figure out is how it happened. We delete all suspicious emails from our folders, we don't open them . . . I have heard that Facebook messaging (sending private messages) can create such a problem, but I don't know if it is true. Am going to research that today. Anyway, we are totally perplexed . . . and mad!

Why some people use their energy for evil is beyond me. Think what our world could be like if all of those people put their minds to doing good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Landscapes and Clouds

Kansas can't brag about its beautiful mountains and high peaks. It can't gloat about its picture-perfect weather, its crystal-clear streams, or its glorious beaches. Nope. When it comes to bragging rights, we have to work hard to brag on Kansas.

Now, we have some of our own beauty . . . the Flint Hills, for example. And there are select places in Kansas that are spectacular, but on the whole, Kansas landscapes speak to some but not to all.

But. I would put our skies up against any state in the union. Kansas skies aren't deep blue like the New Mexico skies I grew up with. But they are blue enough, and on occasion they remind me of the skies back home. The cloud formations and sunsets that we experience, however, equal any other state I have been to.

On our way home from the Cotton Bowl, we were privy to another unique cloud formation different from any we had ever seen. The winds were doing something crazy up above, yielding a really cool look. Although the picture was taken with a point-and-shoot through the windshield of the RV, the curvy clouds still show up well.

Of course, we have spectacular sunsets. This one is not as beautiful as many, but it is pretty nice. In Kansas, we take joy in the little things - the shapes of the clouds, the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's So Hard

It is so stressful being an NFL owner. Suddenly, every game takes on a new importance. After all, the Packers are now MY team!

Yes, I have always been fascinated with the Packers. I like small-market teams, and the way the Packers have managed to keep together their franchise is a great story. Then when Jordy Nelson went to play for them, the Packers became more noticed around our family.

The Packers are exactly the kind of organization I like. It has a family feel, and the players buy into the family atmosphere. They don't hold out for more money, they give back to the community, and they generally operate for the good of the franchise, rather than for the individual good. Reminds me a lot of how people thought at The Independent School.

When I read that the Packers were selling stock to improve Lambeau Field, I couldn't help but bite. So now I have my official Green Bay Packers stock certificate to hang on the wall. I bought two shares. Eventually Kenneth will own one, and Diana will own one. We get no benefits, no special perks, nothing . . . just the pleasure (and stress) of being an NFL owner.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tailgate Jerry Jones Style

Since we were going to be at Jerry Jones Stadium for the Cotton Bowl, we decided we needed to have really good food at the tailgate. And since we were playing the Razorbacks, pig seemed appropriate. Ribs were a must. What is a topnotch tailgate without ribs? And then we had to have our pulled pork with mango salsa. That is probably my favorite recipe ever . . . hot and spicy with a sweet mango sauce. The recipe came from the Wall Street Journal several years ago . . . seems fitting for Jerry Jones Stadium, doesn't it?

To go with it we had baked beans, potato casserole, green salad, wonderful cheese balls, freshly Diana-made Guacamole, white Texas sheet cake, brownies, and lots of cookies. It was quite the feast.

We also needed to have a lot of people to eat all of the food. My brother and his family/friends joined us (5), the Willis family (7), our family (6), fellow season-ticket holders Gaskill, Thompson, Berryman, Scott and Strube (8), Fr. Jim and Ann Davis and the Ericksons (4), Lauren Luhrs and Mark (2), many KSU students, and even the Morgans came by. By our count we had well over 40 . . .
It was great fun . . . especially when we were all gloved up and ready to eat ribs, grilled by Don and Rick.
With picture-perfect weather and good friends, we had a great warm-up for the game.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pep Rally

Kim passed away the night before we were to leave for the Cotton Bowl. Her family told us to go ahead and go to the Cotton Bowl anyway, since they didn't anticipate the funeral to be before Monday. So with heavy hearts, we did, knowing that is what Kim would want us to do.

The first activity on the docket was the pep rally, which was held in Ranger's Stadium. Now, Ranger's Stadium is huge. How many people would be at a pep rally? Wasn't that overkill?

Apparently not. The purple tide just kept rolling in. By the time the rally started, there were between 15,000 and 20,000 people . . . more than attend major league baseball games in some cities. Even Nolan Ryan was surprised by the number of fans that showed up! He was only expecting 4,000 to 5,000.

With the jumbotron in full operation, the band and cheerleaders making plenty of noise, the Wildcats were quite a presence! It was a great way to start the weekend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


There aren't many people for whom I would do the "Rock Chalk" chant. I have stood respectfully while others have chanted it, but I have never participated . . . until now. But for Kim Setty Norton, I would do almost anything, including "Rock Chalk."

Kim, my sister-in-law, was just one of those kinds of people who was easy to love. She was one of the most selfless souls I have ever known. No matter what, it was never about Kim. It might have been about her husband, her kids, her mom, her relatives, her work . . . but not about her. Even in her last days, she was asking about others, making sure we were all ok, never wanting to talk about her illness.

She was diagnosed with her cancer a day or two before a wedding in the family. She never said a word about it until after the ceremony was over, the bride and groom gone on their honeymoon. Then very quietly, she told one of the sisters-in-law and slowly spread the news. She never wanted to talk about it, and she refused to surrender to the chemo treatments. She missed an occasional day of work from chemo, but very few. She might miss the day of the treatment, but usually, even if she felt bad, she was at work.

Kim was a planner. She handled her household with efficiency, knowing where each was at all times, planning for the next event. When she realized that she was not going to beat her cancer, she began to plan her funeral. She told her mom, "I have produced my own show for 23 years; I am going to produce my last one." And with that she ordered the music, asked the vocalist and instrumentalists to play, selected the pall bearers, chose the scripture, and created exactly the funeral she wanted. And it was beautiful. It was all Kim.

Kim was a collaborator who tried to include many, speaking ill of no one. Several people told me they only ever heard her speak positively about others, and the fact that other news organizations in town helped man the KWCH desks so their broadcast family could attend the funeral speaks to how well respected she was in the community. She included the common folk as well as other media people in her "Does It Work?" segment, building good will and a loyal following.

Kim was beautiful, inside and out. She exuded a loving spirit and deep faith in God. When she lost her hair in her second battle, she decided not to get a wig. I so admire her for that. For such a public person whose profession relied on hair and make-up, she always knew what was really important. She told me that the hair didn't matter. She said she had a lot more to be concerned about than whether her hair looked good, so not having any was easier. What a gal!

She taught me a lot watching her through her last months. She kept her quick wit, her terrific smile, her faith. She taught me about the importance of remaining optimistic even in the face of bad odds, about being the mom even when you are sick, about being gracious to people who are well meaning even if they say the wrong things.

On occasion I would drive through Starbucks and take Kim one of the drinks they offer. I frequently would ask them to put a little extra love into hers and they did. Sometimes they would draw pictures, or write notes on the cups. They even added prayers for "my friend." Today when I drove through, I was suddenly overcome with grief. I wouldn't be taking her Starbucks anymore. We wouldn't be sitting around talking about the things our kids did or the state of the country or the crazy things people put on Facebook. She wouldn't be going to New Mexico with me any more. All of a sudden, it became real.

I know Kim is watching from above telling us all not to worry. She knows she was a wonderful mother to her children, and they have a steady foundation on which to stand. She knows she was a terrific wife who loved her husband unconditionally. She knows her mother is strong and kind and will be there when needed. She knows she was loved by the rest of the family. She knows that we would do anything for her . . . including say, "Rock Chalk Jayhawk."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dallas Cowboy Stadium

One of the reasons we were anxious to get a Cotton Bowl bid for our Wildcats was the opportunity to see Jerry Jones' gazillion dollar stadium. No doubt it would be impressive, and it didn't disappoint.

Those in Dallas call it the Death Star, suggesting a similarity to the Star Wars ship. It did stand out on the horizon, and its coloration did emulate the Death Star.

My first impression of the structure was that the futuristic "flying buttresses" actually looked more like the legs of some of the monsters in the Star Wars movies.

Once inside, a person couldn't help but be impressed with the roomy concourses, the video boards, and the ceiling height. But to find where a seat is? More than difficult. I couldn't figure out how to find my seat, and when I asked a man, was given the wrong directions. Eventually I found it, but it wasn't without some perseverance.

We were sitting high in the stadium, which made the view of the field very interesting. We could really watch the plays develop, and I loved the vantage point.

Unfortunately, where we were sitting, it was impossible to understand the announcer. Kenneth and Diana, who sat only a section away, had no trouble, and a few other people could hear well, but most of the people with whom I spoke felt no announcer would have been better than what we had. For all the gazillion dollars spent on the stadium, I don't understand why the sound system wasn't better.

I am glad we got to go to the stadium; it is impressive. But given a choice, I would go to Bill Snyder Family Stadium any time. I have learned that I much prefer smaller stadiums, even if they have to be split with fans from the opposing team!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We Ready!

Babs is very excited about the next few days of Wildcat Mania. To celebrate the beginning of the festivities, she dressed up for the basketball game tonight. She is thinking she is ready for a big Wildcat Win.

I am hoping she brings the Cats good luck!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts have never been high on my list of vegetables to eat. I like to think I am open minded about most foods, but I just haven't been able to get past the bitter taste of these little cabbages. Last year my sister told me she loved them, so I tried them again. Yech . . . couldn't take it nor could Don. So I didn't try them again.

This weekend we went to Kansas City to see Kenneth and Melinda, who has become an awesome cook! She was talking about brussels sprouts, and she explained a way to cook them that I had never tried. So tonight we decided to cook them "the Melinda way."

She told me to coat them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them for about 45 minutes until they turned black. I looked up several recipes, and they suggested starting at 400 degrees, turning it down if necessary and stirring them about every 5 - 10 minutes. So that's what I did.

After 45 minutes, they were indeed black. I tried one and was very surprised at how good they were. A little mushier than I like, but they were very tasty! Don and Diana liked them, too.

So I think brussels sprouts will not longer be the shunned vegetables that they have been around our house. They won't be served as often as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower, but we will eat them more often than once every 35 years!